On Friday, Peter Yarrow, who first gained international recognition in the 1960s as a member of the folk music group Peter, Paul, and Mary and now works in issues of social justice through his organization Operation Respect, will spend the day on campus, collaborating with the GC community in several different venues for a “day of peace.”
The day begins in the College Church Chapel at 10 am where Yarrow and co-worker Mark Weiss will give basic context for their work and discuss the motivation they have found for continued activism.
The goal of Operation Respect is to help schools to create safer, more caring environments for their students. The main tool that Operation Respect offers is its “Don’t Laugh at Me” [DLAM] curriculum, a compilation of music and activities that promote good spirits, and perhaps even a visit from Yarrow himself.
Since its inception the organization has grown tremendously, expanding far beyond U.S. borders. The DLAM anti-bullying curriculum is now available in over a dozen languages.
Over the years, Yarrow, Weiss and the Operation Respect team have built a wide network of social justice activists and peacemakers around the world.
Among them is Zoughbi Zoughbi, a Palestinian peacemaker, father of GC senior Marcelle Zoughbi, and founder of the Wi’am Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Bethlehem.
Marcelle Zoughbi became familiar with the work of Yarrow and Weiss through her father and, in the summer of 2011, invited Weiss to join with her and eight other GC students to lead a day camp for Palestinian children.
Weiss says he saw this invitation as an opportunity to “pay [his] dues” in an area fraught with conflict, forming relationships and making connections at a local level instead of simply “making a political stand on the issue.”
He also recognized the work of the day camp–providing a place for Palestinian children to live, play and learn in a safe environment while their parents were at work–as another important kind of peacemaking.
It was at Wi’am during the summer of 2011 that Marcelle Zoughbi began to move on her vision of bringing Yarrow and Weiss to Goshen.
Nearly three years later, that vision has come to fruition.
Yarrow and Weiss plan to begin the day by focusing on the bigger picture, talking about why peace and justice issues are personal, not just societal.
Weiss said, “We will give a historical context of need for peacemaking in the U.S. and the ways we have recognized that need and the implications of living in the U.S. in our own experiences. We want to help people realize the reality of profit-making in U.S. policy–that this is not just a hero story of democracy and freedom.”
The ultimate question he and Yarrow will be working with in convocation is how we take up peace as individuals and as a community.
Yarrow said, “Most of all, it is important for us to figure out what we are going to do about this, when we take a stand and how we do it as we face both historical issues and local issues, taking up peace that way.”
The day will continue with a workshop, given by Weiss, on peacemaking in schools. Weiss, a former Social Studies teacher, principal and twenty-year veteran of the New York City Public Schools, teamed up with Yarrow eleven years ago to work at curriculum design for children and young people.
Yarrow will conclude the day with a 7:30 pm performance in Sauder Concert Hall, during which he will combine his love of music-making with his passion for peace to tell stories of injustice and call for change.
Tickets to the evening concert are $20 for community members, $10 faculty and staff, and $5 for GC students. To purchase tickets beforehand, go to www.goshen.edu/tickets. Proceeds will go to the Wi’am Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution.